This month sees the return of the National Stress Awareness Day (2nd
November). Stress is the feeling of being put under too much mental or emotional pressure and is an unavoidable part of life. But dealing with it is possible. Although the cause of stress may not disappear, there are ways to help you release tension and clear your head, so you can cope more easily.
So what is stress?
The “Flight or Fight” response can be used as an explanation for the feeling of stress, however, this mechanism is designed as a response to a one off reaction or a perceived challenge, ensuring the individual is alerted to possible threats allowing them to take avoiding action. Continually being in this state means that your mind is constantly being stimulated leading to an imbalance.
You might find that your first clues about being stressed are physical signs, like tiredness, headaches or an upset stomach. This could be due to hormones called cortisol and adrenaline which are released when we feel emotionally stressed.
How to identify when we are stressed
Some of the more common symptoms to watch out for can be split into four areas: psychological, emotional, physical and behavioural. The symptoms that affect you will often accumulate until you are forced to take notice of them, such as:
How to reduce stress
- Increased reliance on alcohol, smoking, caffeine or drug use
- Inability to concentrate or make simple decisions
- Aggressive or anger outbursts
- Dizziness or palpitations
- Panic attacks and nausea
- Memory lapses
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling tearful
There are many ways to help to reduce your stress levels, from simple short term changes to long term alterations to your lifestyle or routines such as:
- Exercise regularly. It won’t make your stress go away, but it will keep you healthy and better equipped to cope with the issues you face
- Effectively manage your time. The act of taking control is in itself empowering, and it's a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else
- Socialise. Stay connected with your family and friends. A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way
- An activity which means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally. This increases awareness, clarity and acceptance of our present-moment reality
- Breathing excercises. The NHS recommends breathing techniques to help induce calm during periods of pressure, there are countless tips and techniques available through the health and wellbeing portal to assist you with this
- Adult colouring books. You either love them or hate them but millions love them for the quiet and creative time out that they offer
For more information about stress and how to avoid it, visit https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/low-mood-stress-anxiety.aspx